The casket scenes in The Merchant of Venice are powerful arbiters of success and failure. The casket challenge is loaded with culturally-specific signifiers which favour local contenders. Bassanio rejects the gold casket because he is aware that European moral iconographies repudiate earthly wealth (though, ironically, Bassanio is a poor illustration of the principle). The Prince of Morocco, by contrast, understandably supposes gold to be an appropriate metaphor for love - gold was, after all, the prima materia of North Africa. Morocco is on every level more worthy than Bassanio but fails because he chooses through foreign eyes.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Cultural Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory